Re-inventing Your Identity After a Traumatic Life Event
After a traumatic life event, re-inventing your identity can be an empowering way to move on and reclaim your life again.
As part of moving on with your life after a traumatic event, you may decide that you want to re-invent yourself. As people, we’re always growing and changing, so after a trauma, your goal may not be to rediscover who you once were, but instead to embrace the person who you are now. There are many ways to re-invent your identity, but the following ideas can help you to get started.
Understand the Significance of Your Trauma
Before you can move on from your trauma, it’s important to understand the significance of what has happened and how it’s likely to affect your future. A traumatic life event can change elements of your life that you wouldn’t anticipate, after all, including your future behavior and habits.
After a traumatic life event, you’ll naturally start to develop coping mechanisms to help you process and deal with the emotions that you’re experiencing. These mechanisms can be positive or negative. Positive coping mechanisms may be:
- Exercise for reduced stress
- Yoga for improved focus
- Meditation for reduced stress and improved focus
- Aromatherapy to reduce stress
- Art therapy to explore emotions
- Adopting or working with a pet trained to identify PTSD symptoms
Negative coping mechanisms, on the other hand, can include:
- Addiction, which is closely linked to trauma
- Mental health issues
- Low tolerance for distress
- Shame about who you are, or a feeling of shame that you caused the trauma
- Poor relationship skills, often as a result of low self-worth
Before you start re-inventing your identity, take some time to speak with a mental health counselor so that you can approach this life journey from a positive place, rather than from having this journey be a negative coping mechanism. Counseling and therapy have been shown to be highly effective in treating PTSD, and a counselor can refer you to alternative treatments, like Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) psychotherapy. According to studies, between 84 and 90% of trauma victims who receive three 90-minute EMDR therapy sessions have their PTSD cured during that time.
Start By Unplugging
Don’t start making big life changes without taking some quiet time away for yourself. Unplugging and taking a little time off is important and can even contribute toward your success and happiness both at work and at home.
Schedule some time for yourself each day, or even better, schedule a trip for a weekend or entire week with your family. Turn off your phone, unplug from social media, and reconnect with the activities that you enjoy or spend some quality, uninterrupted time with the people who mean the most to you, whether that’s friends or family. This time away can be refreshing and invigorating.
Consider a Move
Your environment can have a major effect on your mental health, and moving away may be a positive change that you need to make in re-inventing yourself. If your current town is surrounded by memories of trauma, it can be difficult to escape, but a move might be just what you need to get a fresh start in a new location.
If you’re seeing signs that it’s time to move, then do some research into what it would take to relocate. Even if you need to wait and save up some money to move, knowing that it’s in your plans can make your time in your current home more bearable.
Try Out a Makeover
Your new identity may call for a new look, so consider getting a makeover. A new hairstyle or hair color and a new wardrobe can leave you feeling refreshed, confident, and pleased with your new style. Consider getting some friends together for a shopping trip so that you can ask them for tips on developing your new style.
This may also be the time to have some work done to improve those little cosmetic issues that have always bugged you. Cosmetic surgery can significantly change your look, and these procedures don’t have to be invasive. Liposuction, facelifts, and botox injections are just some of the options you can choose from to help complete your new look. If you decide to have surgery done, make sure that you find a trusted surgeon with a great reputation who can guide you through the process and help you choose the surgery that’s just right for your needs.
Focus on Letting Go
Changing your physical appearance and moving to a new location can be positive changes in your life, but you’ll also need to focus on re-inventing yourself mentally and emotionally. One of the best changes that you can make is to focus on the art of letting go.
Clinging to past trauma can hold you back. When you focus on letting go, you’re giving yourself permission to move on from the trauma. It’s important to acknowledge the trauma and how it’s changed you, but then it’s time to be ready to heal and to embrace this new identity and the new person that you’ve become because of what you’ve been through.
Focus on letting go of resentment, negativity, and hate, and instead, look at the positives. You are strong, you are starting out on this new journey, and you are carving out your identity. You’ve survived trauma and there is much more for you to look forward to in your life. And, most importantly, you deserve to be happy.
Prepare for Challenging Times
While re-inventing your identity can be a refreshing way to move on from a trauma, this journey won’t erase the effects of a traumatic life event. Realize that there will be stressful times ahead, but when you have the right tools and coping mechanisms, you’ll be able to successfully navigate stress.
Prepare yourself with stress-conquering techniques. Deep breathing techniques are effective and you can use them in any setting, whether you’re at work or at home, out in public with friends, or just feeling stressed while going over your to-do list. Exercise is another great way to cope with stress, and when you make it a part of your daily schedule, you’ll enjoy its benefits regularly in addition to benefiting from the health perks of exercise, too.
Some people find keeping a journal to be a helpful way to deal with stress. Journaling works on many levels. It ensures that you spend some quiet time reflecting on each day and helps you to slow down from your busy life, even if only for a few minutes. It also gives you time to reflect on your emotions and how you’re responding to events and stress in your life. Plus, in the future, you can look back on your journal and see just how far you’ve come since the trauma.
Moving on from a traumatic life event is never an easy journey, and the path won’t always feel like a straight line. There are sure to be setbacks and challenges, but you’ll also learn more about this new person you’ve become. While a traumatic life event may have changed you, reclaiming your life by re-inventing your identity is a powerful way to move on and move forward in life.